I really didn’t know what to talk about today, some things went on this week, but I didn’t want to talk about my week, because I hate doing that. Luckily J led the session (usually when I have something to talk about he leads, and when I don’t have anything to talk about he expects me to lead. But this time it worked out.) We started with how I am feeling, talked about that for a while, then we got into an argument (Evan – that one’s for you!) J asked me how I feel compared to how I felt before surgery and I said “About 50%.” J said, “That’s very pessimistic.” Then I got pissed. He has used that word before and I guess I was finally fed up with it. I said that I don’t appreciate being called pessimistic, and what number would he have liked me to give him that wouldn’t be pessimistic. 75%? 90%? He said it was just his opinion, and I said, “I don’t want your opinion” and he said “So what are we doing here?” I said when I ask for your opinion you say you can’t tell me what to do, but you’ll just give your opinion unasked. He said there is a difference between advice and opinion. I told him that my son’s therapist used to say I was pessimistic, he would say the most outlandish things and I would say that would never happen, and he would always say I was pessimistic. I told J that I thought it was a judgmental word.
He said he was sorry if he triggered a hot button for me in regards to my son’s therapist. I said why couldn’t he say something like “That’s a more negative answer than I would have expected.” So he said, “That is a more negative answer that I would have expected.” He said it was just semantics and he doesn’t want to argue with me. That perhaps it was a matter of perception rather pessimism.
We somehow moved on from there, and talked more about how I feeling, and what I am using to judge progress, and I said that frankly I can’t really remember what I felt like before the surgery. But I do feel better than I did a couple of weeks ago, so maybe then I felt 25% of how I was before, and now I am 50%, so I am actually being optimistic.
He asked me how often I think about how I am feeling physically. He always asks me questions like that – I guess he wants to know if I am ruminating so that he can suggest mindfulness again. I told him that I am not thinking about the physical stuff much, more about the relationship stuff. I told him that my sister called me, and that was weird, and my aunt hasn’t called me, she also has not come to visit even though she said she would about five times, and about what my son said when we went out to dinner. I asked how so many people in a family can be dysfunctional and he said “Because they are related.” Later I realized that they are not all related, not by blood anyway.
I talked a lot about my new diet, and how good it makes me feel, how happy I feel now that my diet meshes with my values. That I wanted to do this about 5 years ago, but couldn’t do it because I thought it was too hard. But I guess the health problem was the impetus to really do it now. And how people can’t say anything to me about it being abnormal or bizarre because I am doing it for health reasons. Before I had a very healthy diet, and I did get comments frequently about how I ate. That has basically stopped. How can anyone tell me what to eat if I had cancer? I told J that I tell everyone I am eating this way for my health, but since I have been doing so much reading and watching movies, I believe that I am continuing to eat this way for ethical reasons. I said that I can’t really talk to anyone about that, because people tend to feel threatened, and think that I am implying that I am better than them. Which is totally untrue. I don’t care what other people eat.
I told J that if I asked anyone they would agree that animals should not be kept in tiny cages or pens, they should not be force fed grain that is not their normal diet, and they shouldn’t be treated inhumanely, especially at the slaughterhouse. But people take that information and put it somewhere, so that they can eat what they like to eat. I did it, everyone does it. I said that even though I was one of those people I don’t really understand it. J talked about slavery, and how everyone thought treating a certain race of people inhumanely was fine, and if you didn’t want slaves that you were outside of the norm. But eventually people became enlightened. I have heard animal rights activists compare the way we treat animals with the way we treated slaves decades ago. Not that they are comparing people with animals, more the mindset and the group mentality of what is normal.
Then we talked about how changing my diet is an accomplishment, and do I feel that way? Because I couldn’t do it the first time I tried, and now I can. He also talked about my running as an accomplishment, and he really wants me to see that I have accomplished these things.
At the end of the session J asked me what I thought of the session. I said I thought it was good, did he think there was something wrong? He said that he doesn’t think anything is wrong, he actually thought it was good that we were able to go from having a misunderstanding to having a productive session. He liked that when he said something that made me angry I was able to talk about it right away. I said that yes, normally I would ruminate it about it all week and send him an email, or try to talk about it the next week. But he has used the “pessimistic” word a few times lately and it bothered me but I didn’t say anything. Today I guess I just got fed up. I apologized for responding angrily, but it didn’t seem to bother him. He liked that I was able to respond in the moment. I didn’t like arguing with him, or being angry, but I guess by talking about it right then I was able to move on.
He also said that he thinks that pessimistic isn’t the word he really should be using. That pessimism refers more to things in the future, and I told him that my doctor said to me “How long do you think you’ll be able to keep up this diet?” That, to me, is a pessimistic attitude, and J agreed. He apologized for using the word, and said that he didn’t even use it in the correct grammatical sense.
So anyway, that was it. We didn’t have to talk about my week, but I was able to bring up a couple of things that were bothering me during the week, and yet not focus on those little things, working more on the deeper issues. And I guess it is an accomplishment that I was able to respond in the moment when J made me angry, and that rarely, if ever, happens.